Call for gender ID question in next Scottish census The Times 09.12.18

The original article is here.

Scottish ministers are coming under pressure to include a question in the next census that meets the needs of non-binary people.

A third option, as well as enabling people to describe themselves as male or female, could “ensure that non-binary people are able to respond in a way that reflects how they live, rather than being limited to two options that do not accurately record this,” according to the Equality Network.

The group, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland, is being supported by the Scottish Trans Alliance and Stonewall Scotland.

They argue that the sex/gender question would also improve the accuracy of the data.

The organisations were responding to a call for written evidence from the Scottish parliament on how the Census (Amendment) Scotland Bill should treat sexual orientation and gender identity in the
10-yearly snapshot of the population.

While the details are yet to be agreed, the intention in the legislation to have a third option that could record sexual orientation and transgender status is opposed by others. They include Woman’s Place UK, which describes itself as a grassroots feminist organisation established by women in the labour and trade union movement.

In evidence to Holyrood, it said: “The inclusion of a third option to the question on sex would indicate a departure from the scientifically grounded theory of human sexual dimorphism and an alternative understanding that some human beings cannot be categorised as belonging biologically to one of the two sexes.

“If the Scottish government believes that human beings are not sexually dimorphic, then ministers and the chief scientific and medical officers must provide evidence to support that claim.”

Others who submitted evidence, like Edinburgh university academic Dr Kath Murray, noted that the question on sex has been constant since the census was introduced, allowing robust longitudinal analysis.

This, she said, may be undermined by changes to the sex response categories.

Last week The Sunday Times revealed that the Scottish government is to rethink its approach to transgender rights after a backlash from influential nationalists and grassroots SNP members.